Puddle Wonderful

(Lousy photo, but it’s the only one I have — Puddle Wonderful at Norm’s Beer & Brats, 1996.)

A few random facts about the band:

* The name Puddle Wonderful comes from an E. E. Cummings poem describing springtime as “mudlucious” and “puddle wonderful.”

* First gig was at the Recyclabell in Duluth in the summer of 1993.

* Last gig was at the North Star Liquor Lounge in Superior in the summer of 1998.

* Reunion show at R.T. Quinlan’s Saloon during the Homegrown Music Festival — May 7, 2011.

* All members graduated from Superior Senior High School: guitarist Aaron Ashley (1991), guitarist Greg Conley (1991), drummer Marcus Matthews (1990) and bassist Bryon Gaynor (1991). Ed Willie was the band’s original bassist, and also a 1991 Superior grad. Gaynor replaced him in 1994.

* Before Puddle Wonderful, Conley and Gaynor were in the cover bands Nobel Savage and Young Goodmann Brown.

* Puddle’s first recordings were cassette demos: Sucks to Be You and Snuff.

* Signature cover song in the early days: Neil Diamond’s “Cracklin’ Rosie.”

* Other frequently covered tunes: “Message in a Bottle,” “Home Sweet Home,” “Nightshift,” “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.”

* First full-length album released on CD in 1995 — Sweetly Unnecessary (credit Jack Kerouac for the title). Band members financed the album themselves, used the art from a cardboard insert for a shower cap on the cover, and spent three hours before the disc’s release folding inserts. About 400 copies were sold.

* There was a Puddle Wonderful fan club called the “Puddle Girls,” which consisted of a couple of Northwestern High School students. They are pictured on the back cover of Sweetly Unnecessary.

* Profiled in the Duluth News Tribune on Dec. 29, 1995. (Thanks to Laurie Viets for saving the clip.)

* The band broke up before its second full-length album, Barely Legal, could be released.

* A collection of Puddle Wonderful recordings is available for free download on Bandcamp, via “The Virgin Marcus” Matthews.

Share your Puddle memories in the comments.

19 Comments

spy1

about 11 years ago

For those feeling goat-footed this morning:

In Just-
  spring   when the world is mud-
  luscious the little
  lame balloonman

  whistles   far   and wee

  and eddieandbill come
  running from marbles and
  piracies and it's
  spring

  when the world is puddle-wonderful

  the queer
  old balloonman whistles
  far   and   wee
  and bettyandisbel come dancing

  from hop-scotch and jump-rope and

  it's
  spring
  and
     the

        goat-footed

  balloonMan   whistles
  far
  and
  wee

Barrett Chase

about 11 years ago

They also routinely covered the Violent Femmes' "Gimme the Car."

Gwanto

about 11 years ago

Great band back in the day - these guys kicked ass back when there was a tiny fraction of original bands in the Twin Ports and hardly anywhere to perform, compared to now. I used to see them play at the coffee shop over in Superior (can't remember the name of it now). Favorite original song was "Personals" which I thought was a pretty creative use of lyricism at the time. I liked these guys so much, I did a photo shoot of them in the video studio at UWS (the photo in the clipping was shot by yours truly). 
Sadly, I won't be able to make it tonight. 
Have a great show guys!!!

-Berv

about 11 years ago

Doomsday Meteorite, Pacific Club, circa 1995.

wildgoose

about 11 years ago

La Petite.  I believe that was the name of the coffee house.  I was away and then out of the country for most of the 90s but I remember checking out a few shows at La Petite before it closed.  One of the last Twin Ports coffee houses with a beatnik vibe.  Well, not really, but it was a place for people to "hang out" play games, play music and expand horizons.  We're lucky to still have Beaners and Amazing Grace where you can do the same, but Starbucks and Caribou-type places have taken the place of all the others.

Paul Lundgren

about 11 years ago

It's gonna be a long night, and it's gonna be all right.

Barrett Chase

about 11 years ago

I'm pretty sure the song was called "Doomsday Meteor," not "Doomsday Meteorite." I know that e.e. cummings did not capitalize his name.

mrashley

about 11 years ago

The last show was not at Heaven.  It was booked for Heaven, but that shut down so it was moved to the North Star in Superior.  I was trying to figure out the year.  Homegrown 1 at the Norshor happened after Puddle Wonderful.  Was that 98 or 99?  I get confused if HG 1 was the Norshor or was HG 1 Starfire's b-day party?  That show might have been 97.

Paul Lundgren

about 11 years ago

That's right, Aaron, I was going to ask you about the last show because I remembered there was some kind of change from the original plan. I couldn't remember going to a Puddle show at Heaven ... but oddly I don't really remember seeing one at the North Star either. 

(Starfire's 30th birthday party was in 1998; the first Homegrown was in 1999.)

Last night's show was ridiculously awesome, by the way. Puddle is still a great band, and I'm still a lousy photographer. The best I could manage was this fuzzy shot of half the band. (Fortunately, there are better photographers out there.)

calk

about 11 years ago

Puddle Wonderful indeed was wonderful, we got there early and so got up front, wow. Thanks for the rec, MsDean. Loved Crew Jones too. And, of course, what would Homegrown be without Fr. Hennepin? Great shows all around.

Baci

about 11 years ago

Ed Fitz Flashback! PW! ... my ears are bleeding this morning, thank you!

Paul Lundgren

about 11 years ago

And thanks to Ernie for reminding everyone that this T-shirt existed.

adam

about 11 years ago

The North Star Bar show was in 1998.

Barrett Chase

about 11 years ago

Adam's right. It was 1998. I went to Lake Nebagamon for what was rumored to be the last Puddle show but wasn't. I hadn't yet started my comic, but I was working on it. I remember talking about it on the drive.

mrashley

about 11 years ago

1998 it was.  And that also works if HG 1 is 1999.  To me at least Starfire rescued a fading music scene by turning 30 and creating a rally point.  1997 & 1998 were rough on the local scene.  Low hadn't yet made the impact locally they do today, Pomeroy era Norshor was done, no bands at RT's, Ed Fitz bands were all done and nothing like Homegrown had ever been pulled off although there were a few outdoor show attempts.  To be honest when Puddle was done until Baci called me for the First Ladies I didn't think I'd play in a band again.

baci

about 11 years ago

Mr. Ashley brings up an interesting point. When I was just starting in the local "scene," the early/mid 80s, we had a couple of bands playing mostly basement shows. They we're mostly associated with a set of UMD students. They gained popularity as they moved through the four years of their student career and when they graduated and left/moved back home, the scene went through a fallow period. With no venues actively supporting a scene, it's left to only peers to give it energy. I remember when I got looked at cross eyed by the owners of the Mirror Lounge (now R.T.'s) when I suggested they have original bands there. Once Julie Zimmerman got on top of that sh!t, and we started booking bands outside of basements, the scene started to breathe. This was a part of a longer cycle because during the 70s there WAS a thriving original bands scene here too.

Paul Lundgren

about 10 years ago

I just came across this 1995 poster in my basement:

adam

about 10 years ago

So many posters are yearless. Archivists hate us.

Paul Lundgren

about 10 years ago

I don't know what the year is on this one, but it's got to be the mid 1990s.

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